On the second season finale of The Mandalorian

Spoilers ahead.

Thinking back on this most recent season of the only reason anyone subscribes to Disney+, it’s clear that the final scene we got was really the only way for this season to end. I think I’d dismissed it as a possibility simply because I didn’t think Disney had the balls to do it. Bringing in such a famous, beloved character that adds an unavoidable connection to material the rest of the show has sort of avoided is a huge risk, especially when it requires the sort of anti-aging technology that doesn’t always work great. That character’s impact could also cast a huge shadow over everything else they’ve announced; if you’ll bring him back once, we’re going to expect him to be around more in other things too.

I won’t lie: the room got a little dusty when that single X-Wing approached Moff Gideon’s cruiser. I thought the earlier brawl between Boba Fett and WWE’s Sasha Banks was as Scott-specific fan-service-y as the show could possibly get, but the possibility that Luke fucking Skywalker, young and unburdened by the sequel trilogy’s stupid god damn motherfucking bullshit, was coming to save the day elicited a legit gasp. At first I tried to logic the possibility away. Surely this was a swerve, a tease before the introduction of someone else. Even when that green lightsaber snap-hissed to life I still couldn’t believe it was actually him.

But then the cowl came down and there he was. For those who don’t know, I like most of the Star Wars movies but I loved, loved, loved, loved, loved the Expanded Universe book series. I devoured those things like they were candy all through my teenage years and into my twenties. I called out of work when they killed Chewbacca with a moon and then again when Han and Leia’s son murdered Luke’s wife. And finally, right there on my TV, was the closest approximation we’ll ever get to the Luke of those lost, de-canonized stories: a young Jedi Master fresh off his victory over the Emperor, traveling the galaxy to right wrongs and rebuild the Jedi. So what if the CGI wasn’t perfect. That one scene almost made the rest of 2020 worth it.

Narratively, Luke’s appearance is like dropping a bomb on the whole setting. Who gives a crap about Ahsoka Tano or the Bad Batch or any of the other series they announced this week when it’s established that Luke god damn Skywalker isn’t just hanging out on his couch waiting for Ben Solo to turn into an emo shithead? The creative minds at Disney have to know this, and I’d bet they’re accounting for it in all of the other Star Wars properties they’re working on. As I wrote previously, this new fleet of stories reeks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s progression, where a series of smaller standalone movies eventually built to massive team ups in the Avengers films. What better way to replicate that structure than by telling the stories behind the first class of Luke’s new Jedi academy? I betcha Grogu won’t be the last new Force user we run into on Disney+.

The elephant in the room, of course, is in the future, when Kylo Ren slaughters all of Luke’s students before the start of the sequel trilogy. Would Disney really get us all attached to a bunch of new characters just so we can watch them die horribly? There’s a lot of money in it, so why not! I’d do it, but I’m kind of an asshole. And besides, the films – and The Mandalorian itself – already set the precedent that “destroying the Jedi” never really means someone got all of them.

As is always the case with any fictional property, we’ll have to see how this goes. This finale arguably does a lot more for Star Wars in general than it does for The Mandalorian, but that might be alright. Let’s just hope they don’t go overboard and bring back Jar-Jar.

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